Art of Painter Sumbat to Be Presented in Talk at ALMA


WATERTOWN, Mass. — Dr. Armen Der Kiureghian, professor of civil engineering and holder of the Taisei Chair at the University of California, Berkeley, will give an illustrated lecture on “The Life and Work of Sumbat,” on Wednesday, May 25, at 7:30 p.m., at the Armenian Library and Museum of America (ALMA), 65 Main St.

Der Kiureghian, the son of the artist, is the author of a book on his father’s work. The lecture is co- sponsored by ALMA and the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR).

Sumbat Der Kiureghian (1913-1999) is the most celebrated Iranian watercolorist of the 20th century. A descendant of 17th-century Armenian settlers in the New Julfa district of Isfahan, he embodied the artistic traditions of his people and of his hometown. He is admired for his watercolor and gouache renditions of Iranian and Armenian village scenes and of landscapes. Through his art, he played the role of a mediator between East and West: he brought a European artistic style (lucid watercolor applied in loose brushwork) to Iran and he introduced Iranian lifestyle, folk traditions and landscapes to Western audiences. His works capture the energy and diversity of Iranian society while also straddling the line between figurative and abstract painting. Sumbat lived and created in Glendale, Calif., during the last 19 years of his life.

Der Kiureghian’s book, The Life and Art of Sumbat, presents the artist’s biography through a series of intimate stories, letters, pictures and quotations from other writers. The book includes more than 180 color reproductions of Sumbat’s paintings, drawings and sketches. The book will be available for purchase the night of the talk.

Armen Der Kiureghian is one of the founders of the American University of Armenia. He served as founding dean of the school of engineering from 1991 to 2007, concurrently with his Berkeley position. Among other awards, he is the recipient of the Movses Khorenatsi medal from the government of Armenia for his efforts in advancing higher education in Armenia, and the Alfred M. Freudenthal Medal from the American Society of Civil Engineers for his research.